Honour for Abel

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CHRISTOPHER Charles Abel, the father of Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel, is one of the two Papua New Guineans knighted by the Queen on her 92nd birthday.
The other is Melchior Pesa Togolo. Abel was recognised for his services to the community through his support of rural agriculture extension and citizen participation in business.
Sir Christopher was born in New Zealand but grew up at Kwato in Milne Bay. He was a presiding officer during the 1964 elections in the Mountain Koiari electorate and in 1968 in the Kuni hinterland section of the Kairuku electorate.
He was a member of the Milne Bay Constituent Assembly for the provincial government and Speaker in the first Provincial Government.
He gained his PNG citizenship in 1975. He was awarded the Independence medals in 1985, 2000 and 2005. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2007 for services to religion and the community.
He is fluent in three Papuan languages – Suau, Hiri Motu and Kuni. He compiled a Suau dictionary (Ta Alina Suau – Let’s speak Suau) with friends and published it after 40 years in 2015.
He assisted with the reforming of the administration of the Kwato Church (1986 – 2000) after the move from Kwato Island to Alotau.
He assisted with the recovery of the Kwato land titles and facilitated their transfer into the post-independence Kwato Church legal entity created by an Act of Parliament.
He also assisted with the establishment of the Massim Museum and Cultural Centre in 2016 “after my uncle Sir Cecil Abel urged me to take on the project in 1991 before he died”.
He is currently helping locals with business and development projects and assisting with the management of such projects.
His grandfather, Charles William Abel, arrived from England in 1890 with the London Missionary Society and was sent to the Eastern Division in 1891 where he founded the Kwato Mission. His father Russell Abel was born at Kwato 1905.
He was born in New Zealand after his mother evacuated when the Japanese invaded PNG. He returned to Kwato in 1945 and grew up at the Kwato Mission and its outstations.
He travelled to Australia for his secondary education. He gained a Diploma in Agriculture and joined the Department of Agriculture as a didiman in 1963.
He later was posted to Bakoiudu in the Yule Island hinterland where the current deputy prime minister was born, and finally Bereina, completing six years in the Kairuku sub-district.
He was posted to Kokoda as the resident didiman in 1968 and then to Popondetta for a year. He returned to the new town of Alotau in 1972 as the PNG Development Bank rep for Milne Bay.
He resigned from the Public Service in 1975 to form Masurina Ltd with the current Milne Bay Governor Sir John Crittin and a group of local friends from Logea Island.
The aim was to gain a stake in the Milne Bay economy for Masurina shareholders.

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